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Jamal Speaks, 18, is a senior at Ballou-STAY Opportunity Academy. He fell on hard times after his father passed away, and he and his mother no longer communicate. He currently stays at a friends’ house but is trying to get into college via a football scholarship. However, his dreams were threatened when Principal Willie Jackson refused to let him play the Ballou High School football team’s game against Anacostia, according to

Speaks told WJLA, “I’m being told I can’t play by the principal. I don’t know why he’s telling me I can’t play.” reports officials in D.C. say he is eligible to play, and D.C. Councilmember Trayon White released a statement which read in part, “When asked about the circumstances surrounding his decision, Principal Jackson communicated to Councilmember Trayon White that he did not want any negative publicity. In response, the community was outraged, including parents, teachers, students, and players.”

The statement continued, “Mr. Speaks previously had issues with eligibility due to residential verification, however was cleared to be a District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) student last year and this school year. Councilmember White spoke to Mr. Clark Ray, Executive Director of the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) and communicated with Interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander whom both confirmed Mr. Speaks was eligible to play.”Speaks’ coach and teammates delayed a Saturday game for 45 minutes to try and let Speaks play, but Principal Jackson allegedly threatened to fire the coach.

Councilmember White reached out to Mayor Muriel Bowser, Interim Chancellor Alexander and Principal Jackson on behalf of Speaks, saying, “This goes beyond football. This is the kind of player we need to put our time and resources behind. We cannot afford to turn our backs on this young man.”

Speaks said he was offered a scholarship by Temple University if he keeps up his grades. The Temple coaches were coming to see him play Saturday, but, could not since he was not allowed to play.As of now, Principal Jackson has not released a statement on why he will not let Speaks play. See the news clip below:

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High School Principal Refuses To Let Homeless Student Play Football For College Recruiters was originally published on

11 thoughts on “High School Principal Refuses To Let Homeless Student Play Football For College Recruiters

  1. Mac Daddy on said:

    The student is not being denied the opportunity to pursue his education, we just put a higher priority on sports and the comments here prove that. C’mon man, the is why all races outscore us with ease. We gotta do better

  2. Catherine E Cook on said:

    This principal is a ASS. He knows this young man just lost his father, not communicating with his mother. He’s going through some difficult times right now. Where is the compassion to help. A principal is suppose to encourage the students & lead. Not make threats. He is not worthy to be principal of this school.

  3. Not one kind of explanation by the principal will do his decision any justice. Right now the US of A needs as many educated black men that any college can produce. Denying him the chance to play is tantamount to purposely letting him fail at any chance he might have had. I just hope this set back does not effect his ability to dream big.

  4. Goldie 2 on said:

    The principal should be ashamed and fired asap. The principal forgets since he’s “management” he serves “at the pleasure of” and can be terminated. I want to know what else can be done to help this young man.

  5. OMG!!!!!
    This principal is one COLD-HEARTED SOB!!!!!

    What is it to him to allow this young man who happens to be homeless-try-out for recruitment in either NCAA or the NFL!!!!!!!!

    I wish this young man good luck and hope his homeless situation is turned around soon.

    We all may need a hand-up—-THIS IS NOT A DAMN HAND-OUT—HATERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Mr. Jackson is the one that needs to be removed. As leader, the principal is the one that sets the tone for the school and from all indications, his tune is hitting a sour note. Why wouldn’t you want a student to thrive and succeed? This goes beyond all logical reasoning.

  7. Malcolm Jackson on said:

    Sounds like the principal is on a ego trip. ‘firing the coach. Principal should be Fired. As a man you should uplift the Student if all is clear. That fool doesn’t belong in education if you can’t give a sound solid reason for you decision.

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